Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hi from Paradise!

Dear Family,
What a crazy week! It just feels like a blur. I am all well and settled in my new area with Sister Cook. We are living in an apartment in a busy part of Vegas, about 10 minutes from the strip. There are SO many more people in Vegas than Havasu, and hallelujah for street lights here! It makes the nighttime hours so much easier on us. I am so excited to be here. I feel like there's so much work to do and so many more opportunities to find new people to teach. Many of the people here are living in pretty humble conditions, so most are very open and receptive to us. Of course that makes everything so much more rewarding and exciting and motivating. We are teaching a few families right now, but I really feel we can find more. I feel an added drive to make things happen and to see miracles.
Sister Sidney Cook is so sweet. The beginning of the week was a little rough when I first got here because she was down with a terrible cold - she had this horrendous cough that wouldn't go away, so the first few days I was here she rested in bed all day until dinner. I wasn't sure what to do because I've never had to stay inside yet on my mission... so I unpacked, organized, studied, snacked, and studied some more. We were convinced she had bronchitis, but after trying a few cough/cold medicines, its finally started to die down. Sister Cook is very bubbly and outgoing and loves to laugh. She has this tiny little voice that sounds like a Disney character (she could definitely work at Disney World as Princess Belle or something).  I think we will work well together.
The ward here is nice and humble. Our bishop, Bishop Nihipali, is Hawaiin, works as head football coach at the high school, and knows Brother Kalauli from the Crossman Peak ward! So obviously I've taken a liking to him. Our ward mission leader is a convert of 5 years and is so excited about making things happen in this area. I'm excited about him! 
I love y'all so much!!! Wish I had more time!
With love,
Sister Robinson

Note from Summer: Lindsey obviously has a new address now because she has moved to Vegas. Please leave your email in the comments if you would like me to send you her updated address. Thanks!


Dear Family,

Wow, hello December! Time is flying. Next week I hit 6 months! Crazy. 

Sounds like y'all had a good Thanksgiving! Thanks for the pictures. So glad you got to see the Bettingers. I'm excited for a big Robinson - Bettinger reunion when all the missionaries are home someday. Sophie sent me pictures from the big Robinson get-together on Thanksgiving in Utah. It's so fun to see her and Heather and Holly together again. I was asked a few times on Thanksgiving what some of my family's Thanksgiving traditions are and I said that my cousins and I used to sneak olives into each other's sodas when the other wasn't looking, and after the big feast we'd Thanksgiving carol around CC's neighborhood. Haha! Those were the best of days. Our Thanksgiving here in Havasu was really good! We ended up eating at our ward mission leader's house with his family (the Derus). We had mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, raspberry pudding (heavenly!), veggies, gravy, homemade rolls... all the goods. I was bummed we didn't have any candied yams - I'd been looking forward to them all week! But the meal was yummy and filling. We had to make room for feast #2 later that day; we got invited to eat at Sister Bayne's home with her and some other widows in the ward. Needless to say we were well-fed, put on a few pounds, and were perfectly happy and content missionaries :) It was a little tough to proselyte that day, but we had some good lessons with less-actives in the ward.

We had a baptism last night for Aiden and Audrey Tarter, who we've been teaching for about 3 months. It was a beautiful service, and it was really special because their dad, Jesse (who was baptized at 8, but hadn't been to church in over 18 years till we reached out to the family during the big ward search in August), received the priesthood earlier in the day, so he could perform the baptisms. I felt so grateful to be a part of their spiritual progression as a family. And I adore those kids! Audrey is a bubble of energy and laughter and fun. She turned 8 on Saturday. Aiden is so bashful and shy, but has one of the kindest hearts. He's 11. The next step is to keep the 3 of them active and progressing together. 

Other noteworthy events from the week:
-The Kalaulis officially moved out of the ward! We're so sad, but also so happy for them. They were in a tight space with their 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental and 8 family members. Their new house is HUGE and beautiful. 8 bedroom, 6 bath and MASSIVE. Sister Walton and I stopped by the other night to take a tour (and basically get lost in) and to say our goodbyes. Meeting such strong and loving families has been one of my favorites things about being on a mission so far. I love going into other people's homes and seeing how they live and work and interact. It gives me such perspective. It also makes me appreciate our family so much. 
-The Church came out with a new Christmas initiative - have you seen the "He is the Gift" video yet? I love it. I have been so impressed with the media of the church in recent years, particularly the videos. I filming is excellent and the message shared is powerful. Watch it for FHE tonight after decorating the tree :)
-Sister Arnold came back to Havasu for a day to go on an exchange with Sister Lowry! We got to see her at district meeting. She goes home in a week. I will forever cherish the memories I have with her and the lessons she has taught me. She has changed my perspective on so much, and consequently has changed my mission. 

Happy December! I love the holiday season. Can't wait to Skype with you on Christmas! 

Praying for you always,
Sister Lindsey

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Week

Letter from November 24, 2014

Dear Family,

Transfers are on December 9th. It's not set in stone that I'll be leaving, but when we went to dinner with President Snow Friday night before the "Meet the Mormons" showing, he asked Sister Walton: "So, are you ready to take over the area? We can't keep Sister Robinson here forever!" So naturally we're feeling pretty inclined to believe I'll be kicked out of here. I am excited and nervous. Mostly I'm ready for a change. Serving in-valley is apparently a whole different ball game - so much more fast paced and rigorous and busy. 

Our showings of "Meet the Mormons" was a HUGE success! An announcement for it aired on the radio for a week, and we put an ad put in the paper. We had over 300 people show up for the friday night showing and close to 100 on saturday! At the end of the movie of course everyone was in tears, and then Brother Nelson (who was conducting the evening) stood up and thanked everyone for coming and invited all the full-time missionaries to come to the front and introduce ourselves. All the elders in our district (and some more from our Zone) came, so we had an army of missionaries it seemed. It was so powerful and so awesome. I was grateful to be a part of it. There were quite a few nonmembers there, too, which made it all even more exciting. President Snow was impressed and said: "One of us needs to write this experience up and distribute it to all the missionaries in the mission to set a gold standard for them to follow!" We told him it wasn't us, it was the members. Our ward did a phenomenal job of putting it all together. I wish I'd taken a picture of it, but I never got around to it.

Blessings of the temple

Letter from November 17, 2014

Dear Family,

This week has been such a blur.. Sister Walton and I sat down to plan last night and realized, "Oh my, tomorrow is PDAY!" When I heard other missionaries say that the weeks pick up after about 3 months out, I didn't really think it'd be true for me. But lo and behold, I feel like my time with Sister Walton has passed in the blink of an eye. We only have 3 weeks left together! I am getting so nervous for transfers coming up. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sweet November Air

Dear Family,

I am loving the cooler weather here. It's still only like 80 degrees, but I am busting out the scarves and sweaters! This morning while doing some shopping, Christmas music was playing over the radio... YIKES, it's still way too early for that, but I'm still giddy about the holiday season! What are y'alls plans for Thanksgiving? We'll have our big feast of the day at the Hauck's. Sister Hauck is an amazing cook, so I'm excited. 

I got the letter you sent in the mail, Mom. I can't tell you how happy handwritten letters make me! I'm writing you and Borgs back today. 

We had quite the week. 9 investigators dropped us and more than half of our appointments fell through. It would have been incredibly discouraging, except we knew that we'd done the best we could, so all we could do was continue to look forward. A midst those occasional setbacks, I feel the Spirit move the work (and me) along all of the time. It truly is miraculous. 


Dear Family,

This weekend we had stake conference. It was by far the best stake conference I've ever attended... We had a broadcast from Salt Lake to 96 stakes in Arizona, and my two favorite speakers from this past general conference addressed us - Elder Christofferson and President Uchtdorf (as well as 2 other speakers)! I was THRILLED, to say the least. It was like general conference, but more specifically addressed to just US in Arizona. For some reason I don't remember stake conference being quite so powerful in the past. 

At the Ward Halloween event
Elder Christofferson was the 3rd speaker, and he began by sharing a story of a man he knew and loved well, who came to him many years ago in confession of a sin he'd committed (I believe it was when Elder Christofferson was serving as a stake president, but I can't quite remember the details). The man was grieved, remorseful, and repentant of what he'd done, but he was also surprised by his actions. Elder Christofferson confessed he was surprised, too. This man had served in high leadership positions in the church, he was well known and well loved in the church... what had caused him to committ such a serious and grievous sin? Elder Christofferson said this experience led him to contemplate the subject of conversion, and explained that such thoughts were the ones he wanted to share with us. Immediately when he said that I knew that his message would be an answer to my prayers, as I have been thinking heavily on the same subject lately. This week I read the talk "Converted to His Gospel through His Church" by Elder Donald L. Hallstron from the May 2012 Conference Ensign. In it, he says:

"Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.
By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but they are of greater eternal importance. For example, how much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?
I repeat: we need the gospel and the Church. In fact, the purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel. We often wonder: How can someone be fully active in the Church as a youth and then not be when they are older? How can an adult who has regularly attended and served stop coming? How can a person who was disappointed by a leader or another member allow that to end their Church participation?  Perhaps the reason is they were not sufficiently converted to the gospel—the things of eternity."
I struggle knowing that there are millions of members of the church that are active in the church (and even more millions who aren't), but aren't actually converted to the Gospel. Yesterday as Elder Christofferson went on, he explained that there are 4 levels of conversion in the church. I'll try to review them as past as I can from my notes (it was so frustrating because his talk was so good and my hand would NOT write fast enough!). 

Level 1: This consists of members of the church who know the Gospel, but do not follow it. 

Level 2: These members follow the outward performances of the Church, but to whom the spirit of the Gospel is not known. They lack understanding. They show outward forms of devotion only.

Level 3: Many members of the Church fall under this level. Their conversion extends beyond outward manifestations.. they read the scriptures and pray regularly. They are active in their callings. They feel the Spirit of the Gospel. But they are like the apostle Peter when he denied Christ 3 times before His crucifixion: They love the Lord and the Gospel, but perhaps are not strong enough to withstand persecution. This is where the man from the story was. These saints fail to overcome when the going gets tough. The law of God governs their actions, but they will not follow it at all costs

Level 4: These members are those like the converted Peter, who was martyred rejoicing that he'd been found worthy to suffer in Christ's name. They have a clear understanding of the Gospel plan and they can teach it to others powerfully and simply. They are bold in declaring the word. They are persistent in the faith until death. Their fear of man is washed away. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just something they practice, it is part of their very NATURE. 

Elder Christofferson's thoughts were spot on. He put the feelings and observations I have made into words, and outlined this trouble within the church clearly. Though it is discouraging to know that many members are not quite truly converted, he offered a word of hope: "Your mighty change of heart may not yet be complete... continued faithfulness will bring real conversion. Do not become discouraged if becoming Christlike is slow and at times imperceptible. For every Paul, Enos, and King Lamoni" (who experienced a change of heart in a powerful, single experience) "there are hundreds and even thousands of people for whom the process of conversion takes a lifetime. We must not give up hope." 

He shared this scriptures from Proverbs 7: 

 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.
 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
And in closing he said: "May the law of God be written on our hearts." It was so good. 

He was followed by President Uchtdorf, who spoke of the lessons we learn from temple covenants, as Arizona is preparing to dedicate the Phoenix temple in just a few weeks (I am so excited to attend a temple dedication!!!). If I had more time, I'd go into detail about his talk too! 

I love you so much.
Sister Robinson

Ultimate Truth

Dear Family, 

This week was full of events. The biggest news is that transfers are tomorrow, and Sister Arnold got transferred early (on Wednesday)... we weren't allowed to know why until Saturday. FINALLY we're in the know... She's spending her last transfer on her mission as one of the Nevada Last Vegas mission's first sister assistants to the president! She is so perfect for the job and we're all thrilled for her, but we'll really miss her out here. I love her so much. Sister Lowry is staying here for another transfer (she's been here as long as me!), and Sister Walton and I are too - surprise! Also, Sister Browning (my MTC companion) is getting transferred out to Kingman, AZ - which is in our zone! I'm so excited to serve by her!!! 

As for the work... Tom (our miracle) is doing well. We had an awesome lesson with him at Bro. Deru's house this week. The church put him in a hotel here in town for 7 days, and now he's working to get his life back on his feet. He came to church yesterday and has been progressing well. We are so excited about him! Yolanda dropped us yesterday. It was tough because we love her so much, but she wasn't keeping any of her commitments, so ultimately it was a blessing. I sure hope someday she'll pick up the Book of Mormon and read it cover to cover and have a change of heart. We're teaching a good number of other solid people - they're keeping us busy. 


Dear Family,

It has been such a good week for Sister Walton and I. We have been working so hard. I am so proud of her - She is an excellent missionary and is so much more bold than I ever feel! We push each other and help each other every day. We have gotten to be so much more comfortable with each other, too, so we're bonding well - which I am so grateful for! One of the perks of being her companion is that she's a commercial fisher AND a '49 Chevy truck owner - which means she has something in common with 95% of Havasu. It sure makes for a great conversation starter with street contacts, haha! I have no doubt that she was called to Havasu because she can connect with so many of the retirees here. It is so awesome. 

One huge lesson I have learned thus far on my mission is that I can't force anything to happen... all I can do is work hard, be obedient, continually pray for guidance and strength, and then TRUST that the Lord will make things happen. In my head, I've known that that's the way it works from the get-go. But actually feeling and applying it daily has been a struggle. I've been my own stumbling block because (as I've said before), I've been relying too much on my own grit and abilities. It's taken some time, but I finally feel I'm shoving that stumbling block to the side and increasing my diligence and faith, and everything is falling into place. We have seen so much success these past few weeks, and our efforts have nearly doubled our key indicators (numbered measurements of the progress of the work)! We have quality contacts each day, strictly stick to the schedule we plan out each night, and pray and pray and pray some more for miracles. One of the biggest miracles I have yet to see yet happened yesterday:

Emma Aston's baptism was held in the chapel right after church (the chapel because so many ward members came to support her and we couldn't all fit in the Relief Society room, where baptismal services are usually held! Another reason I LOVE Crossman Peak Ward). It was such a beautiful service. All her family was in town, and the room was filled with so much love and JOY. I was really touched. When we migrated to the room with the baptismal font, Bishop Hansen tapped me on the shoulder and said, "There's a man named Tom sitting in the back of the room - I just met him. I want you to go speak to him after the service." We caught a glimpse of him before heading over to speak to him afterwards - a man in his 50s, blue Tshirt, cargo shorts, old sandals, crying. We went up and introduced ourselves to him, and he began crying harder. One of the first words out of his mouth: "I have been to 8 or 9 different churches in this town, and every single one of them, without fail, has depicted you Mormons as the most evil, corrupt, devil-worshipping church in the world. It makes me sick thinking about it, now that I've been here and witnessed this. I cannot believe how wrong people are about you guys. This is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!" He was just weeping. "I'm telling you, you have NO IDEA what other congregations are saying about you! And they're all wrong!" We were speechless. I asked him what brought him to join us, and he said he just kind of wandered in. "I'm at the end of my rope... as of tomorrow at 4:00 I'll be homeless. I've got no where else to go. Someone told me I could find help here, so I came to see your Bishop, and I found myself sitting in on this service. It is so beautiful. There is so much love here." He stopped talking because he couldn't get the words out past his tears. Finally, "I'm sorry I'm crying, I'm so embarrassed! I just - I don't know..." I told him we were so glad to have him there, and then I asked if he was interested in learning more about the church. "Yes!" He exclaimed. "Yes, yes! I have never felt this way before!" A miracle! Sister Walton pulled a Book of Mormon out of her bag, handed it to him, and said: "Tom, this is where it begins. This is what we're all about, and I promise that if you read it, along with your Bible, you will find all the guidance and direction and clarity you need." She began to cry. "THIS is what we do as missionaries, and THIS is why we've left our families for 18 months. I know this book is true, and you, too, can know for yourself." He kept crying and nodding his head. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing! We got his information, and as we led him to the Bishop's office, he said this: "I have a question for you two. I was baptized before, in a river. I accepted Christ as my Savior, but as I was baptized, I didn't feel anything. The commitment to Him was there, but there was a complete lack of feelingWhy?" Sister Walton and I looked at each other in shock... he was asking all the right questions! Sister Walton said in reply, "Tom, we believe in a power called the Priesthood. The Priesthood is the authority given to man to act in God's name in behalf of His children. One must be baptized by a man holding the Priesthood authority of God in order for his or her baptism to be fully accepted before the Lord. The Priesthood seals promises and covenants man makes with God on Earth and in Heaven." Tom listened closely and said, "So, the man who baptized me didn't really have the Priesthood?" Sister Walton: "No, he did not." (pause) "Tom, if you read the Book of Mormon, and came to know that this church is true, would you be baptized by someone who holds the Priesthood authority?" Tom: "Yes, yes I would!" He continued to cry. "I most definitely would." Sister Walton: "Well, we're holding a baptismal service on November 15th - will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that day?" Tom: "Yes! I can tell you right now, I will accept it all." 

....can you imagine our shock and awe?? Who was this man? Where did he come from? What brought him here? Why had he just fallen right into our laps? As we left the church building a few minutes later, Sister Walton began to weep. "Sister, I have never, ever felt that way before." She paused because she couldn't speak. "I...I literally felt God's love for that man run through ME" (she motioned up and down her body) "I was overwhelmed. It was a power bigger than me. And I couldn't NOT give him a Book of Mormon; I couldn't NOT invite him to baptism. This is the truth! This is HIS work!" 

This words from Mormon 9 in the Book of Mormon are powerful:

"15 And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
 16 Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
 17 Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought?
 18 And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.
 19 And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
 20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.
 21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth."
The Bible Dictionary defines "Miracles" in this way:
"An important element in the work of Jesus Christ, being not only divine acts, but forming also a part of the divine teaching. Christianity is founded on the greatest of all miracles, the Resurrection of our Lord. If that be admitted, other miracles cease to be improbableMiracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power. Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of a higher.They were intended to be a proof to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (Matt. 11:4–5John 2:11;10:2520:30–31). Many of them were also symbolic, teaching such divine truths as the result of sin and the cure of sin; the value of faith; the curse of impurity; and the law of love. The miracles of healing also show how the law of love is to deal with the actual facts of life. Miracles were and are a response to faith and its best encouragement. They were never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith."
Miracles are real, and come about, as taught in the scriptures, by true FAITH, sincere, heartfelt PRAYER, and NEED. I know I use the word "miracles" a lot, but it's because they are the most powerful manifestation of the reality of this great work, and they empower me daily. 

There's a book that Bishop Hansen uses to counsel all of us in our High Council meeting each week - it's called "Counseling with the Councils" by M. Russell Ballard. He says it stands 3rd in line next to his Bible and Book of Mormon in seeking inspiration and guidance from heaven. Mom and Dad, will you get a copy and study from it together? It sounds like one you'd like. I'm going to see if I can get a copy to study from on P-day. Another thing that I think you'd like in your personal study is Jesus the Christ  by James E. Talmage. The life and ministry of the Savior is brought to light in a whole new dimension as I read from it - I LOVE it. 

Thanks for the emails and updates. Love y'all forever.

Love always,
Sister Robinson      

Friday, October 17, 2014

Miracles are my favorite.

Dear Family,

Congratulations to Haley and KC on sweet little Austyn Jane! She looks perfect. What a wonderful experience for the whole family - there is nothing better than a little one straight from heaven. I'm so excited to meet her next year! She and Tenley will be celebrating birthdays together in the coming years, I'm sure :) Happy birthday this week, my Tenley Mae!! 2 years already! 

Wasn't "Meet the Mormons" awesome?? We got to see it at President Interviews this week - President Snow had a screening copy and let us all watch it. And I heard a rumor that it was one of the top ten box office hits this weekend? That's crazy! We have been passing out cards that our mission made to hand out while contacting each day, and we've had quite a few people say they want to see it, and will keep an eye out for it when it comes on Netflix. Obviously the end of the movie hit really close to home... there wasn't a dry eye in the room. I am so impressed with the church's efforts to increase public understanding of our beliefs through the media. The movie was so well made and displayed, and seems to be a pretty big success! 

Did I mention we got a new ward mission leader? Brother Hauck was released a few weeks ago... it was bittersweet. He's devoted so much time and energy to the missionary work here in Lake Havasu for the past 3 years. His leadership in his calling was phenomenal, but it was time for a change. Bishop Hansen called Brother Deru (the bishop who served before him) to take Brother Hauck's place, and we are SO excited to work with him. We met with him last week and discussed the work in the ward right now. Things are really going to pick up in the next few months with his additional efforts and support.

We saw so many miracles this week. They keep me going. I'll share one. A few days ago, Sister Walton and I had scheduled in a man named Howard, who was on our potentials sheets from last year. We stopped by and he was super friendly and conversational. He explained that he'd met some sister missionaries some time last year and they'd had a nice conversation, but he hadn't met any since then. He also said that he's very involved with his Episcopal church here in town, but that he appreciated us stopping by. We pulled out a "Meet the Mormons" card to leave him with, and then said that one thing we like to do as missionaries is say prayers with families in their homes. We asked if we could come back the following evening to pray with him and his wife. He agreed, we set a time, and returned the following evening. We had Brother Mundy and another member, Brother Batt, with us (they both speak Spanish, so we'd brought them with us to a Spanish lesson right before, and we want members with us always, so we just invited them to come join us in this "blessing contact" - that's what the mission calls them - with Howard). When we got there, Howard and his wife welcomed us in, shook our hands, gave us each a glass of water, and invited us to sit down. We thought we were just going to say a quick prayer, but it turned into a lengthy conversation about missionary work and, eventually, about the church. Howard said, "Well, you know, I checked out the website on this card you gave me" (a MIRACLE - hardly anyone actually goes to the website! Mormon.org) "and I saw this picture of the Book of Mormon and the Bible? I know nothing about the Book of Mormon... what is it? Can you tell me more about it?" You can imagine our excitement - we're all thinking "YES Howard that's why we're here!!!" Haha! We all jumped right in and it turned into an incredible lesson on the Restoration of the Gospel through Joseph Smith. It was so powerful - they were so engaged and interested and receptive. They are the kind of people we, as missionaries, pray to find every single day. Finally they were like, "Well, where can we get a copy of the Book of Mormon?" Ah, we were over the moon! They said they'd read it and pray about it. We're planning on going to see them again in a few days, so I'll keep you updated :) There are people out there who don't even know they're looking for the truth, until it's staring them in the face. We need to find those people. More joy and happiness awaits them then they've ever imagined. 

Another one of the highlights from this week was going to the Aston's home for dinner. Sister Aston is the Relief Society president, and is one of the most dedicated leaders I've ever known! I admire her and really have learned so much from her example. They live in a humble home - it's really small. Brother Aston worked at the high school as a coach and teacher for years (he just got a new job with a car company) - so I obviously feel a connection there. And Sister Aston teaches ballet classes. They have 4 young kids who are the CUTEST. I wish i had a picture. Right before we went over, Sister Aston texted us and asked if we could teach her daughter, Emma, a Restoration lesson in preparation for her baptism coming up this Sunday. As we taught her after the meal, we were so impressed with how much she knew, and how receptive and excited she was to the message we shared. I love being in their home - not because it's big or beautiful or squeaky clean, but because it is filled with so much love. The Astons clearly have a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, and they have taught their children well. I want my future home and family to be that way someday. 

Sorry this email is short - I'll hand write another letter home this week! Have fun with Ann, Momma! Tell Wendy I LOVE her honey. How's your Preach My Gospel and personal study been? And family evening and prayers? And I can't wait to hear about the play results for Morgan! WOW, star of the show!! Thanks for the Fall decorations pictures too! I love our home.

I love you :) Have a wonderful, wonderful week!

Sister Robinson

Monday, October 6, 2014

A wonderful birthday week!

Dear Family,

Oh, I love Mondays! And I especially love the pictures you send. Sum, that picture of you and Ten is the cutest! Her hair is so long and look at all those teeth! Conference with the cousins sounds like so much fun. You all look so good. I love our family! Wasn't conference awesome? I loved Jorg Klebingat's talk too. His, Uchtdorf's, Christofferson's, and Bednar's were my favorite. I felt so spiritually fed and took something from each message shared! 

As for my birthday package, YES it got here bright and early in the morning on my birthday! Sister Walton and I were in the middle of getting ready when we heard a knock on the door. We looked at each other in confusion because that never happens... She tiptoed to the door and peaked out the window to see who it was and lo and behold - it was the mail man with a big Mary Kay box! Haha! I knew right away that it was a tender mercy that it had gotten here on time. I opened the package at lunch at just cried as I opened each little gift inside, especially the CD! I felt overwhelmed with love. Thank you so much. I listened to the CD on repeat for the next 3 days. And I cried some more when the Angel Lullaby song came on because I'd never heard the original version of it - I just knew it from you singing me to sleep when I was young! They were the perfect song choices. I told Sister Walton that "Redeemed" is one of my Dad's favorite songs. She'd never heard it, but loves it too. I also told her our family is obsessed with Les Mis, so that's why "bring Him Home" was added, haha. I also adore the Mary Englebright Calendar (I'm going to give the other one to Sister Cook when I see her again, because she loves her too :) ). Thank you!!! My package from Jordan included a calendar with pictures of me and her, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, a head massager (haha. I love it!), a spray bottle with a mini fan for the heat, cinnamon bears and extra dark chocolate, a sweet letter, and every conference talk from last April bound into a small book (I'd asked her to print me off a few conference talks because it costs money to print at the library, and that's what she sent!). I love her so much! On my birthday, Sister Walton and I had an awesome lesson with Yolanda about the Plan of Salvation, and Toni took us out for dinner. We got SUSHI, so obviously I was in heaven. My 20th birthday was one of my favorite birthdays yet! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hello chilly October!

Dear Family,

I am so overwhelmed this week as I write this... I feel so much love all around me and it moves me to tears! It started right before Sister Walton and I headed to the library to email, when I picked up a package from the Post Office from Jordan. It's a "birthday package"- filled with presents for each day of the week! I was already speechless, and then I came and read all your emails this week and I am just filled with gratitude and awe for all the love and support I have. Thank you for the pictures and emails!!! I seriously must be doing something right because I truly feel like the luckiest girl alive! 

So the weather is FINALLY cooling off here in Lake Havasu. We're in the double digits and I am overjoyed about it. 95 degrees never felt so good. It's a good thing it's cooling off too, because otherwise Sister Walton just might melt - coming from Alaska and all ;) She's adjusting so well and works hard everyday. I am so grateful for her. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New transfer, new companion!

Dear Family,

What a busy, busy week it has been! It has been exhausting, but I love when it's that way because the work feels so satisfying. My new companion is Sister Bristol Walton from Saldatna (sp?), ALASKA! Is that cool or what? She just turned 19 this summer and is very kind and sweet. I picked her up in Henderson on Wednesday, fresh out of the MTC! It was neat watching all the new Elders and Sisters come in because I was just in their position not too long ago. I reminisced on all the feelings I had when I first stepped foot off the plane in Las Vegas. What an exciting time! I'm grateful to be a part of it again with Sister Walton. 

This was one of our first conversations - 
Me: So what did you do before your mission? 
Sis. Walton: I actually spent a year up at BYU Provo.
Me: Oh, me too! Where did you live? 
Sis. Walton: In New Heritage.
Me: Oh, me too! What building were you in?
Sis Walton: Building 28
Me: Oh... ME TOO! 

Whaaat? Turns our we lived in the same building 2 floors apart, on the same side of the hall. Crazy! We took the same stairwell everyday and probably passed each other a number of times, but never once met! She grew up in Alaska and goes commercial fishing for salmon every summer... seriously amazing. She's big into snowboarding (she hit every ski resort in Utah while up at school), and has Taylor Swift hair, so naturally I like her ;) Haha but really, she is awesome and I'm excited to get to know her better. We're still in the "getting-to-know-you" stage, but we are having fun! She is fearless in diving into the work and is never hesitant to try something new - which isn't how I was when I first got out, so it's been refreshing and contagious to be around her fired up spirit! Lake Havasu/Crossman Peak Ward is the perfect area to train because the ward is so supportive, so I don't feel alone in trying to show Sister Walton the ropes. As we drove back to Havasu from Henderson, I told Sister Walton all about the ward and how lucky she is to serve there. Since Sister Cook has been the driver for the past 3 months, I didn't exactly know where I was going and we ended up getting lost in California for a bit until we finally made it back to Havasu at about 8:45 PM. Ha! We hadn't eaten since 1:00, so we were starving and whooped. The Mundy's called us up and we went over to have eggs, bacon, and toast at their house. It was a perfect welcoming gift for Sister Walton and as we walked out she said, "They were so nice!" I nodded in agreement and said, "See, I told you you'd be taken care of!" She and I have nothing to worry about as we continue to adjust into our missionary service. 

One thing I really wanted to show Sister Walton right off the bat was how important obedience and goal-setting are. They are KEY to our success! We had a long planning session on Friday, during which we made a "Plan of Action", which is basically a blue print for goal-setting that Sister Arnold showed us at Zone training a few weeks ago. In it, you prayerfully plan how many baptisms we want to have in our time together (so, 3 months), what Christlike attribute we individually want to work on, what our part in the work is, what the Lord's part in the work is, and then we say "an intense prayer to seal the deal" (Sister Arnold). After planning out everything, we wrote it up on the huge whiteboard we have in our apartment so that everyday we visualize what we're working towards in all of our efforts. We have so much work and growing to do. 

While in Vegas waiting to pick up the new missionaries, I stayed with another sister - Sister Pantoja - who is also training. During our morning studies on Wednesday, I flipped through a binder of talks/messages she's collected throughout her mission (she's been out 15 months). One of the talks was "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" by Tad R. Callister. I'd heard of it, and I'd read a few other missionary talks similar to it, but I hadn't actually read that one yet. I was moved by a few passages in particular. I'll share some of them:

"You young missionaries came out here to change the world, to change lives, but there is a cost. It costs everything that you have on the altar of sacrifice - your fears, your pride, your laziness, your disobedience, your weaknesses; we cannot hold anything back. When you came to the mission field, you burned bridges behind you, you burned the ships in the harbor. There is NO RETREAT to your former life. You cannot have one foot at home and one foot in the mission field. That is a certain formula for frustration. The Lord demands our whole soul on the sacrificial altar. That is the price we must pay, and when we do, we then become instruments in the hands of God."
"Each of us might appropriately ask, 'What lack I yet to become a consecrated missionary?' There is no escaping it. God will demand our all. If we are shy or reserved - God will compel us to change, to be bold. He will jerk us out of our comfort zones again and again. If we are lazy or idle, he will push us and pull us even when we are exhausted. If we are disobedient, he will press us until we have child-like submissiveness. He will not let us be content with our weaknesses."  

After reading most of the talk, I felt overwhelmed. It seems I always feel that way after reading missionary talks, because all my shortcomings and weaknesses become so abundantly clear. I see where I lack in every area, and I cringe knowing I haven't reached my potential. I grow impatient, frustrated, anxious. Then I read this last passage, and I felt relief:

"I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe he expects immediate progress, and with that progress comes consecration. I believe that He recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may be, striving to put our whole souls on the altar of sacrifice. At first, consecration may seem like Mount Everest, unconquerable, unapproachable, unassailable, but every step we take forward, however minute it may seem, furthers our ascent, until one day we have attained the summit. May we not be content with being good, even a great missionary, when we have the capacity to be consecrated missionaries. Mormon declares with boldness: 'Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life.' (2 Nephi 5;13) May it be so with each of us."

I feel like these words apply to everyone, not just missionaries. The Law of Consecration is a celestial law. It is the way of Heaven, and if we are to attain that degree of glory, we must live that law with exactness. At times that seems daunting and unachievable, but I am comforted by the promise in the Doctrine and Covenants that we will be "enabled to keep [his] laws" as we live and declare His word (D&C 44:5). 

This week I got 2 packages - one from EG and one from Sister Roaming with letters from all the Young Women. What sweet surprises! I was so touched. And of course she sent a huge bag of nuts with it (how'd she know? :) ). And EG sent some nuts too, with a candle, and socks, and a sweet card, and all kinds of other goodies. I seriously am spoiled. 

I'm so happy you read that talk I told you about by Cleon Skousen! It is such deep doctrine, but so fascinating and eye-opening. I loved it, and I refer to it regularly. I'm also happy to hear you're enjoying nursery. It must be fun to serve together. Keep me updated on house plans and work and everything. And tell Borgs to send me pictures already (!!!!!). I literally have no visuals of your summer or school year, ya chub (you can just email me them off your phone!). That's cool about the new car. But I'm so glad I didn't have to drive it (stick shift, yikes!). I've also been bragging to some members that my brother served as a football captain and that football has been going well down there in Texas, haha! Oh, and as for the "Meet the Mormons" movie that's coming out next month - I am SO thrilled about it! President Snow said we can go see it in theaters if we get an investigator to go and pay for our ticket. AHH, how exciting. Our mission made pass-along cards with the movie logo on it to pass out to people. We're not sure if it's coming to Havasu yet, but we're moving forward like it is anyways :) Haha. Tell people about it! Invite people to see it! Our stake president, President Lundin, has seen it and says it's amazing. Non-members who go to see it will view the church through whole new eyes. I can't wait!

Thank you for all the love and support you show me. It sustains me every day. I get giddy to read your emails each week!

All my love,
Sister Robinson

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Change is coming

Dear Momma,

Oh I have so much news for you! First, transfers are tomorrow! We got word about who would be going where on Saturday - we were on the edge of our seats all day until we finally got the call from our District Leader... Sister Cook is getting transferred out of Lake Havasu to the El Dorado Stake in Boulder City - exactly where she was wanting to go! And I am staying in Havasu and training, which means 3 more months here. Can you believe it - a whole 6 months in Havasu! We're driving down to Vegas tomorrow to meet and stay with Sister Cook's new companion, Sister Bohling. I'll stay with them for the night, then pick up the new sister on Wednesday. We'll stay one more night in Boulder City with Sister Cook and Sister Bohling, go to 12-Week training on Thursday morning, then pack up and head back to Lake Havasu. I feel very anxious about the change, but also excited for the growth that I am sure these next few transfers will bring. It's hard for me to wrap my head around training a brand new sister at this point, because I still feel pretty brand new myself. There's still so much I have to learn about missionary work, and I feel sure that training will be, above all else, a HUGE learning experience. I already feel like I am being completely broken down to become completely dependent on our Heavenly Father for guidance and support. Please pray for us as we begin this new chapter of our service! I am excited to fill you in on the change more next week. 

As for how the week went, it was pretty melancholy for me. I just feel so sad about leaving Sister Cook and the familiarity of working alongside her day in and day out. The ward is particularly sad to see her go, but it will be hardest for me. I just feel like I've had it so easy with her as my companion - I've been pretty spoiled - so I'm nervous to see how this next companionship goes. Regardless of what happens, I will (and already do) feel so much love for the new sister coming in. We will learn and grow so much together, and I know she'll have just as much, if not more, to teach me as I have to teach her! 

Since Sister Cook and I have birthdays just 3 days apart, and we won't be together to celebrate, we decided to have a little party at the Hauck's before Sister Cook leaves. It was supposed to be small, but ended up being a pretty big get-together (about 25-30 people). It was really special to have so many people that have become so dear to us all in one place! The Haucks, the Mundys, the Kalaulis, Bishop and Sister Hansen, the Nelsons, Sister Cawthra, and even one of our investigators, Mikey, and his 5-year-old daughter Olivia (they also happen to live right next door to the Mundys in the same duplex! Perfect fellowshipping). We had pie, cobbler, brownies, cupcakes, and rice krispy treats...  YUM! We felt so blessed. Being a missionary is so rewarding. 
One thing Bishop Hansen has really pushed for in our ward missionary work is having ward dinners. He's made it a point to put a Brother in charge of arranging a dinner in a member's home at least once a week. So, when a new family moves in, or there's a serious investigator who needs more fellowshipping, members will hold a dinner. "We need to get these people in our homes," Bishop always says. "Dinners can solve a lot of problems. Remember, social conversion is important, just as spiritual conversion is." So much of what happens on my mission, I draw back to home. I always think about how what I'm learning can be applied to my own family. As I was at the Hauck's last night, i thought of how much missionary work has been done in the Crossman Peak ward because of the fellowshipping and love of the members, and I realized that these members are just like the ones in the Leon Springs ward at home... loving, humble, kind, welcoming. Who is the ward mission leader in the ward? I can see Dad serving in that calling. I can see us having dinners in our home and being major contributors to ward mission efforts. I hope y'all are taking seriously my requests to get more involved in missionary work... there is so much to do and the blessings are truly worth any cost! 
The baptism on Saturday went well. It was a special experience having Kathy baptized. Nancy (Kathy's sister) and Roxanne (their good friend, who's also a recent convert) gave the talks, and I played the piano throughout the service (what a blessing that i know how... I didn't realize how useful it would be!).  

This coming week will be a crazy one, but change is good and I'm looking forward to working hard with the new sister! Can't wait to hear from you again - I love you!!!
Love always,
Sister Robinson

No growth in the comfort zone

Dear Family,

It's so funny to go back and read my letters from previous weeks because I see how much I sound like a missionary! I guess I've really gotten into this new chapter of my life full swing, haha! 

Will you tell Slade and EG thanks so much for their messages to me? What an incredible experience for Slade and his family to have going to India... I got chills the whole time he was telling me his story on how he felt Heavenly Father confirming his plans to move out there. I have no doubt the Lord will work miracles through him and his family during their stay in India. They are missionaries in every sense of the word!! Whether they realize it or not, they are accomplishing His purposes in the Eastern part of the world. I can't wait to hear more about their adventures! Also - tell EG that Sister Cook and I just saw on our calendar yesterday that there is a Pineapple Festival coming up in Havasu this month! Sister Cook pointed it out and we laughed at how random it was, and then EG mentioned it in her recording and we both giggled some more. Haha! Hopefully whichever of us is here then can stop by! 

I can't believe BYU beat Texas!! Woohoo, 2 years running! That's awesome that y'all got to go. And Morgan and Hannah going on a double date, too??? Wow, y'all are getting so old! 

This week was fun, but also bittersweet. Sister Cook and I know our time is running out, so we're trying to work our hardest and enjoy every minute we have left together. So many people in the ward have told us what a great companionship we make... Brother Hauck told us this week - "You know, it will be sad to see one of you go. You two make a great team and get along so well, anyone can see that. We have loved having you serve with us!" 

Last Monday night we scheduled in to stop by a less-active member's home, Sister Schneider. We drove up to her house to find a huge moving truck and boxes everywhere. We walked up the drive and offered our help, and discovered that Sister Schneider (who is a single mother of about 55) and her 2 daughters - about 15 and 22 - were doing it all themselves! Oh my heavens, it was chaos and there was so much to do.. I don't know how they were doing it alone! They were just at the tail end of packing things into the truck to move drive over to their new house just a few blocks away, but we called up the Elders Quorum President, Brother Duncan, to call some brethren up to come out and help unload. Sister Cook and I thought the chances of many men showing up were slim - it was a Monday evening and Labor Day, no less. "I'm thinking we'll get 1, maybe 2, men out here," Sister Cook said, and I nodded in agreement, starting to feel a little overwhelmed at all that was left to do. When we got to the new house, we begun unloading the truck, and within a few minutes 3 brethren were there to help. And then 3 more came. And then the bishop and his brother. And then 2 more. What?? We couldn't believe the turnout... We had the whole truck (which had taken 2 days to load with just the 3 of them) unloaded in 20 minutes! So many helping hands! Sister Cook and I left that night just beaming. As we pulled away, I said: "Sister, I imagine that it was heaven is like: we make it up there, and then slowly - one by one - our friends and family show up too. And we're just rejoicing and crying with joy and saying 'You made it? And YOU, too? And you? I'm so happy you're here!' We will just laugh and cry and think how incredible it is to be with OUR people, who are just like us, who have worked just like us, who have endured just like us." We both agreed that there is a familiarity that we feel with those who are faithful saints - a certain countenance, certain characteristics that just fall in harmony with how we're striving to live. I realized that it must be the character of Christ growing in each of us; We truly do become like Him, and in that sense, we become united. I love this verse from Moroni in the Book of Mormon: 

   48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

I think someday when we stand before our Savior, those of us who have kept His commandments, and served with all that we have and are, and been changed through His Atonement will be stunned at just how much we already know Him. What a glorious thought!

We have a baptism coming up this weekend for Nancy's sister Kathy. She is mentally handicapped (she is in her 50s, but has the mental capacity of a 7 year old), but she has a strong desire to follow in Nancy's footsteps and be baptized, so we are excited for her! We haven't been able to meet with Jose this week (he started a new job and has been super busy) - it has been a little disheartening, but we are continuing to reach out to him and try and get ahold of him! His baptism will have to be postponed, though. 

Sister Cook and I have made a concerted effort to increase our finding efforts this past week. We have nearly tripled our contacts each day! I'd like to say that it gets easier going up and talking to strangers and declaring the message of the Restoration, but it's still hard for me each day. One night we walked up to a group of people in their garage, and found ourselves in the middle of a gathering of drunk men. They began sneering at us, saying the most vile and vulgar things. I couldn't believe how inhumane they were acting! It was something that you see in movies. Sister Cook and I literally just turned around and began walking away in the dark. One of the men followed us down the driveway, yelling horrendous things about Joseph Smith and something about the Meadows Massacre. When we got to the street corner, we just ran for our car. We were both a little shaken up, but I really feel like I'm developing a tough skin! I just thought, "What sad, sad people. They really don't know what they're missing." I actually think that every time someone rejects our message.

 I like what Sister Browning told me in the MTC: "There's no comfort in the growth zone; There's no growth in the comfort zone." That is so true! I am stretching myself and my Spirit is literally growing! And as you always remind me Mom, I know I can do hard things! 

I am so happy to be where I'm at. The kind of experiences I'm having right now are invaluable, and are preparing me for the rest of my life, and for the eternities.

Here's a whole load of pictures! Enjoy! 

I love you all so much,
Sister Robinson

P.S. I got Jake's letter this week! I love you Jakey! Thank you for writing! What's your new school address? Also, yes Elizabeth can email me :)